Saturday, June 01, 2013

Squee-worthy juice from Annick Goutal: Nuit Etoilee

In my hay-making mode, the exploration of perfumery continues and is an anodyne to the wire-taut, keyed-up intensity of overtime-flavored tunnel-vision.

I've been fortunate to win a couple of drawings of giveaways by fellow perfumistas, and those giveaways included dozens of decants of gorgeous niche fragrances. Also, I've spent a wee bit on samples of things I wanted to try before handing over the dosh for a full bottle. Indeed, I'm a bit on the picky side and I'd say only one out of 20 or so really blows my skirt up, but when a fragrance makes me happy in my pants, it makes me happy in a big way. I'm picking my way through these scrummy scents and finding what really works for me, and I'll pass the also-rans along for other folks to try in turn.

My latest happy-pants inducement is the wondrously lovely Nuit Etoilee from the perfume house of Annick Goutal.

I only have a small sample, and will soon run out, alas. I'm hopeful I can spend some of the yields of my overtime this summer on a full bottle of this exquisite juice.

Nuit Etoilee opens with perhaps the prettiest citrus I've experienced. It's not that acidic, lemonadey eye-popping lemon or lime zest, nor is it a cloyingly tangy orange. It's a comforting little burst of citron with a faint suggestion of mint. These are the top notes which scarper off quite quickly. Top notes are the smallest molecules in a fragrance mix, and they fly away from the pack first, and are quick to evaporate. They are sort of an overture which sets a framework in which the big picture will unfold.

The heart of Nuit Etoilee is a glory of pine and fir. These notes begin to reveal themselves within minutes of spraying and present a burnished glow after the citrus/mint medley has wafted away. They quickly seem subdued, but I can smell the conifer on my arm in the evening, having applied it in morning time. This is a low-projection scent on me, and more subtle than the pong-monsters I generally crave in scent. Perfume parlance borrows the term sillage from the nautical lexicon, and the sillage is sort of the wake you trail (or do not). Some people favor high-projection scents, and most of my favorites are thus, but this one wormed its lovely, subdued way into my heart. This is probably not detectable on me more than arm's length throughout the day.

The base notes-- which are slowest to emerge but more sustained-- are angelica, immortelle and Tonka bean. Angelica is a flower, but the oil is extracted from the roots, and this is considered a green scent. Essence of immortelle is extracted from its sunny little flowers (latin name Helichrysum angustifolium, thus named for the sun), and has long been used for medicinal/therapeutic purposes. Tonka is a spicy little bean thing from South America that I've noticed listed as an accord in a huge number of fragrances. I have only seen them in photos, but I would imagine them to be similar to the resinsous, sticky properties of vanilla beans. Tonka bean seems to have a vanillic quality to me. (Vanilla is quite often used in perfumes, but can be overpowering and is not a particular favorite of mine, though it is beasting in my beloved Hypnotic Poison from Dior).

The overall effect of Nuit Etoilee is that of taking a tiny sip of limoncello whilst enveloped in a nice wool wrap, sitting by a campfire in a grove of conifers on the first cool night of the year.

I tend to favor Oriental fragrances that are woody, spicy or floral, but this is a Woody Aromatic. I may have Himself wear this one day, and I think it'll probably be more suited primarily to men, but I think the right woman can pull it off. *aherm* One more note on the formulations of this scent: this is truly a unisex scent, but there are actually two formulations available. The one I have is the masculine and is an Eau de Toilette. There is a formulation in Eau de Parfum form which I have not smelled, but also includes accords of amber (for which I am quite, quite queer) and iris, which I generally don't like in perfumes. I'll be buying the "masculine" version of this, in the squared bottle. In my opinion, convention is utterly to be flouted when it comes to scent. Aramis-- the classic 1966 man cologne-- smells wonderful on me. I think it would be a shame if I'd never tried it because a silly label like pour homme make me think a lady couldn't wear it. If something smells right on you and you enjoy it, you should wear it. Full stop.

This is available in sample form from ThePerfumedCourt and also from SurrenderToChance, but I would recommend confirming which formulation you are receiving when you order any fragrance. It would be disappointing to fall in love with a particular scent, only to find out you've committed to a full bottle of its not-evil-enough twin. As always, I recommend you purchase the larger spray decant to get a true sense of the interplay of fragrance notes. Some people don't think it makes a difference if you spray or daub on a scent, but in my mind at least, there is a difference.


J.R.Shirley said...

This is truly beautiful writing. Your love and interest in the subject really projects...and makes it lovely and...special, for lack of a better description.

Thank you.

Old NFO said...

I'm lost, but obviously you're enjoying it :-)

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins?